1st XV Match Preview V Hartpury RFC (H) Sat 08/04/2017 

by Glyn Barlow

This weekend Birmingham Moseley face the biggest home fixture challenge of the season when runaway league leaders Hartpury RFC are the visitors.

Having won all 27 fixtures to date Hartpury have only dropped two try bonus points all season on their way to promotion into the Championship. We wish them luck for their endevours in the new league next season.

When the two teams met in December Birmingham Moseley unfortunatly delivered one of their worst performances of the season to be overwhelmed 64-5. An interesting, and somewhat baffling, selection gamble of playing fly half James Willaims at full back, full back Mike Penn on the wing and centre Alex Grove at fly half saw the men in red and black (sorry the men in red and black stripes, as both teams played in red and black to confuse spectators) give away far too much posession, compounded by picking up three yellow cards along the way. That said Hartpury were well worth their victory with a confident, very accurate performance played at high pace.

Since that fixture the only speed bumps along the way to a perfect 100% league points haul have occurred in the fixtures at Plymouth Albion in December where they just secured victory 24-27 scoring 3 tries and Rosslyn Park in March where a 28-36 victory yielded 3 tries.

Lets, however,  just put their record this season into some perspective. Hartpury have scored 521 points more than second place Plymouth Albion (so far). That’s more points than relegated Macclesfield have scored all season. Flying Harlequins loan wing Jonas Mikalcius has scored 30 tries, 12 more than our own Ed Sheldon who is in second place in the league’s top scorers. The leagues third highest try scorer is centre Luke Eves with 17 and sixth is back row Jake Polledri with 15, you get the picture.

Over the last two weekends though Hartpury have “only” beaten 9th place Darlington Mowden Park 26-34 and 10th place Loughborough Students 40-31. By their usual standards almost upsets. Signs they are relaxing having already secured promotion or just wishful thinking?

Last weekend Birmingham Moseley secured a fine win in London over Blackheath 25-32, picking up their fourth try bonus point in a row. Considering injuries forced scrum half Dave Brazier to be selected in the centre, along with further reshuffling of the back division as the game progressed, the win is even more creditable.

To have any chance of defeating Hartpury this week the pack will have to do something they failed to achieve in Gloucestershire and dominate their opponents to starve the backline of the ball they want to wreak havoc with. If the Birmingham Moseley eight can gain more than parity up front then we have the backs to ask questions of Hartpury.

Is the time right for Birmingham Moseley to be the first team to taste victory over Hartpury this season, we shall soon find out.